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Everything You Need to Know About Compact Nursing Licenses

Table of Contents

Benefits of a Compact LPN/RN License

Having a compact license is ideal for travel nursing. In short, holding a compact LPN or RN nursing license allows nurses to practice in more than half of the country without having to worry about paying for or obtaining additional licensure for each individual state. If you’re someone who loves a challenge and changing scenery, holding a compact license can help increase the opportunities to advance your career via travel nursing.

compact states map 2024

Map Source: National Council of State Boards of Nursing

What Is the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC)?

The Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) is a nationally recognized, multi-state agreement that allows nurses, both LPNs and RNs, to use their license to practice in their home state as well as the 40+ states where the compact has been implemented.

As of 2024, 41 states/territories have enacted the compact.

Under the NLC, nurses can provide care to patients throughout the United States without having to obtain additional licenses.

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What is the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC)?

Implemented in 2018 – The Enhanced Nursing License Compact (eNLC) implemented standards that the original NLC did not. For example, under eNLC, applicants must complete state and federal background checks (including fingerprints).

Which States Are Compact States?

Current Nursing Compact States*

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

* Download the PDF of current compact states from NCSBN.org.

States that are NOT compact:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Oregon

States with partial implementation:

  • Pennsylvania (enacted in 2021, implemented in September 2023 partially, for nurses living outside of Pennsylvania. No date yet on when current Pennsylvania nurses can apply for their MSL.)


I Currently Live in a Compact State

Compact State License Pillar Page Images (3)-1-1-1

If your primary residence is in one of the 41 compact states, and you’re already actively licensed as an LPN or RN, you are eligible to travel to and work in any compact state. Hooray!

How Do I Apply For a Compact State Nursing License?

To obtain a compact nursing license and work as a nurse in a compact state, you must have proof of residence in a compact state as well as a current, active nursing license in that state. With a compact license, you can practice (physically or via telehealth) in any of the other participating compact states without needing to obtain an additional license.

You must live in one of the compact states and claim it as your primary state of legal residence. You can prove primary residence in the state by using your driver's license, voter registration card, or federal income tax return.

You can only have one primary state of residency.

Important note: Homeownership does not automatically mean residency. Many people own properties in multiple states. But they still only have one primary residence.


Where Can I Find The Compact Application?

Get the application through the state board of nursing application for licensure by exam or by endorsement. This can be found on the state board of nursing website.

Is There A Fee To Apply?

Fees will vary by state. If your legal residence is in a state that joined the compact as of January 2018 (FL, GA, OK, WV and WY), and you hold a single state license in that state, then you should complete the application for a multistate license on your Board of Nursing (BON) website.

What If I’m Moving?

Moving from Compact to Non-Compact States

In this case, you are required to apply for a new licensure by endorsement in your new home state (the state where you’re moving to). Unfortunately, you would not be able to use your previous compact state license in a non-compact state, or a state where NLC has not been fully implemented (like Ohio or Pennsylvania).

Moving from Non-Compact to Compact States

A nurse moving from a non-compact state to a compact state may apply for licensure by endorsement on the new state’s nursing regulatory board’s website. A multi-state license may be issued if proper eligibility and residency requirements are met. The nurse’s original non-compact, single state license stays intact.

To learn more about the process of moving to and from compact and non-compact states, check out this FAQ sheet.

When Will Ohio Become A Compact State?

Compact State License Pillar Page Images (2)-1Ohio joined the compact states on January 1, 2023. On or after January 3, 2023 Ohio nurses will be able to begin practicing in other states. Similarly, nurses that live outside of Ohio that hold a compact license may take travel assignments in Ohio.

If you're an Ohio nurse and need to know how to apply for your compact license, we have your step-by-step guide here!

When Will Pennsylvania Become A Compact State?

Compact State License Pillar Page Images (5)-1Similarly to Ohio, NLC was enacted in 2021. However, the actual implementation date is to be determined. 

Pennsylvania residents cannot obtain a multistate license until an official implementation date is determined.

Nurses in other NLC states with a multistate license may practice in Pennsylvania as of September 2023. View the Pennsylvania press release for complete details on Pennsylvania's compact status and what is means for PA residents.

Additional Resources

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